With the opening of Schewe Library in 1976, Illinois College achieved a milestone meeting the resource needs of the campus community. Named in honor of Karl and Louise Schewe, prominent College benefactors, the library contains approximately 150,826 books and bound periodicals and subscribes to 350 journals and 11 newspapers. The modern structure, its staff and holdings serve as a cornerstone of the liberal arts curriculum in place at Illinois College.
For nearly 67 years (1830-1897), a small area on the second floor of Beecher Hall met the College's library needs. The 1,500 volumes in 1837 had doubled to 3,000 by 1855, and the total reached 6,000 ten years later. The library holdings of 11,000 in 1880 were actually equal to that of the University of Illinois. When the library was moved to Jones Memorial Hall in 1897, it had reached 15,000 volumes. This continued growth led college officials in 1930 to relocate the library to the new Tanner Hall. At the beginning of its 46-year stay in Tanner, the IC library featured 22,000 volumes. Overcrowding on the book shelves became acute by 1973 when the library holdings reached 80,000.
In 1970, a survey of students, faculty, alumni and trustees indicated that the College's greatest need was a new library. Subsequently, a representative committee was appointed to determine the major features to be included in the new facility. Students and faculty were asked to submit their ideas and opinions, and visits were made to other liberal arts colleges where new libraries had recently been built.
Funds were derived from approximately 2,200 alumni, faculty, students and friends as well as corporations and foundations, and a federal grant of $416,000. Students from the classes of 1974 and 1975 pledged $13,000 to the library project. Construction of the two-story structure began in 1972 and the college's library collection was moved into the new building in March 1976.